As best I can, I try to keep an eye out for new bicycle commuting or utility cycling themed videos throughout the week. Fortunately, when a new video pops up, it usually makes an appearance on a handful of bicycling blogs and websites, so they are pretty easy to find.
Today, this video popped up in my blog feed:
The video is from Cycling Scotland and encourages drivers to treat cyclists like horses. No, don’t groom them and feed them…though some might not complain if you did…but rather use caution when you’re around them. Although, unlike a horse, a cyclist can’t deliver a punishing kick with a hoof if it gets upset. The best I can deliver to encourage caution around me is one seasoned stink eye.
But the video, which I found amusing, got me to thinking. What’s the most effective way to deliver a message about bicycle awareness? What works better, humor or scare tactics?
Here’s an example of a scare tactic video:
But after I watch this video, I’m left wondering, who is supposed to be scared here? Honestly, that scares the crap out of me, because I could envision myself or someone I love in that cyclist’s situation. Does that scare drivers though? I guess this one might not be so much of a scare tactic, if it’s aimed at drivers, but rather a guilt trip. So is a guilt trip the most effective way to deliver a message about bicycle awareness?
Here’s another example of a guilt trip and/ or tactic:
Again, after watching this video, I guess I, the cyclist, feel somewhat scared and concerned, but I’m not sure what effect it might have on drivers. I’d suppose any reasonable person would think, “Ok, yeah, cyclists are all someone’s loved one, so I should watch out for them,” but will that really increase their level of awareness when they’re late for work, they just spilled their coffee, and their cell phone is ringing during the morning drive?
Then, there’s another approach. This is the “make you feel slightly stupid approach”:
Ok, this one is somewhat unfair. Honestly, the first time I remember watching this video, I did not see the moonwalking bear, because I was concentrating on the basketball. So they’re deliberately trying to distract you in this example. But is that what happens when you’re driving? Is someone deliberately trying to keep you from seeing cyclists? Yikes, that’s a scary thought. Let’s hope not.
Then there’s the humorous, but heart-string tugging version:
Again, this is using the tactic that someone loves a cyclist, so please use caution, give them space, watch out. But it’s also funny, since the dad is wearing a blow-up suit. What I think works well in this video is that kids are excellent for delivering powerful messages, because honestly a lot of people are more inclined to hear a kid out than another adult. Power to the kids.
Then there’s another way of approaching this altogether. The following video doesn’t suggest that you should use caution or share the road, rather it emphasizes how awesome it is to ride a bike, and encourages viewers to “change their view” about cycling.
So we have six different examples of public service announcements of various kinds focused on bicycle awareness. They each take a slightly different approach, make you laugh, frown, or scratch your head. But again, I can’t help but view these from the perspective of the cyclist. I can try to put on my driver’s hat, and say, “Yeah, these videos make me want to be aware of cyclists when I’m driving,” which is true, of course, but I’m always going to view them from the perspective of the cyclist. Hey! Please watch out for me! I totally agree with what they all have to say.
But then I’m still perplexed as to what effect they might really have on drivers or what version is the most effective. I suppose the combination of approaches can reach different types of audiences, but then again, I’m left wondering who really views these videos besides other cyclists?
So what do you think? What’s the best way to deliver the bicycle awareness message to drivers?